House gets bill for school diabetes-management training

A bill to allow school personnel to administer insulin and otherwise treat diabetes symptoms if they undergo specified training is headed to the House floor. House Bill 98 reflects a shortage of school nurses and Kentucky’s higher-than-average prevalence of diabetes.

A concern was raised in committee Thursday that a non-medical professional may not remember critical information if much time elapses between training and the need to use it, suggesting that non-medical professional will remember, reports Stu Johnson of WEKU-FM.

“If you’re just a little bit off on calculating those carbs, if you’re just a little bit off on calculating that insulin, you can do great harm,” said Rep. Ben Waide, R-Madisonville. “So, the person who’s trained in August, and this doesn’t come up until April, and suddenly they’re going oh, smack, what was I trained in, what in August, what am I supposed to do.”

Teresa Combs of the Kentucky School Boards Association said a more likely scenario is that caregivers will have consistent interaction with the diabetic student, Johnson reports. “It’s not always gonna be an emergency situation, but they’re gonna be working with the kid all the time. I see that as better under this piece of legislation than it was when you had the nurse doing it,” Combs said. “Unless the nurse just wasn’t in the building and there was an emergency and then someone would have to step up that got trained five months ago.”

If schools don’t have a nurse, parents must be called in to the school to administer insulin to their children, or the children are bused across the county to a school that has a nurse, Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville and sponsor of the bill, told The Jessamine Journal. Lori Bradley, mother of a diabetic, said she traveled 40 minutes from her work to administer insulin for her son while he was at school and eventually made the decision to resign: “I chose to resign rather than to risk losing my job, to risk being fired because of poor attendance and the numerous phone calls I received on a daily basis from the school.”

Stewart Perry of the American Diabetes Association said that no firm figures exist on how many children with diabetes are in Kentucky schools, but said “the number is growing at an alarming rate.” (Read more)

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